“The Judger inside of you believes that it is not okay to make mistakes. You disarm your Judger by seeing what it is saying instead of buying into it.”
Have you ever noticed that there is a voice in your head that talks all day long? And have you ever seen how much it loves to judge? It judges how people look, the weather, politicians, religions, handicapped people,etc. But if you look closely, you will see that the person it loves to judge the most is you! If you are honest with yourself, you would see that you have been trained to be unmercifully judgmental with yourself. You compare yourself to some mythical idea of what you think you should be and you always fall short (there is no such thing as a perfect person). All human beings, at some level, are caught in the spell of “not enoughness”and the Judger is its voice: “I am not thin enough, tall enough, successful enough, happy enough, kind enough, smart enough, powerful enough” and on and on and on.
Hitting rock bottom
I know a lot about this Judger because I almost died from it. I like to say that my Judger went to law school, graduated top of its class, and was President of the Debate Club. At one time in my life it could easily convince me that I was worthless and it would list all of the reasons why. It was so brutal and full of rage that in my early twenties, it compelled me to break my own arm. I had been drinking a lot and was frustrated and angry with myself, with Life, with everything. In my frustration, I hit the bed and instead of a soft mattress, I hit the footboard that was hidden under the duvet cover. Over and over again I kept hitting my arm against the footboard because it felt good to hurt myself. I awoke the next morning to find my arm the size of a football. That is a heck of a lot of judgment.
Listen, and then move on
These days, this Judger has no power over me. How did that happen? I learned how to listen to the Judger inside of me rather than buying into what it was saying. On this journey of relating to my Judger rather than from it, I discovered a wondrous truth: The Judger doesn’t know sh*t!
When I was young, it added 2 and 2 together and it came up with 222 rather than 4. Most of us bought into all sorts of assumptions about ourselves the Judger made when we were young and we didn’t have the wisdom or the support to see things differently. And then these assumptions rule us from underneath our everyday awareness, breaking our hearts over and over again.
I wrote a whole chapter in my book, Belonging to Life, called Disarming the Judger. It talks about how to free yourself from your Judger. If you are interested, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will send you the chapter. In the meantime, there are four really important things about your Judger that will help you become free from its spells.
1. Everybody has a Judger.
Everybody! I remember when author John Bradshaw came to Seattle to speak and he said something like, “If you put me in a room with people who have letters after their names(like MD or PhD), I am certain that they will figure out that I don’t know anything.” This was at a time when John’s books were on the New York Times Bestseller’s List and PBS was running his video series. Even all of his success didn’t calm down this cruel voice inside of him. Success never fully takes it away. It is only in turning toward it and listening to it that it calms down.
2. The Judger was created out of benevolence.
The foundation of your ideas about yourself and Life were pretty well formed by the time you were six years old, which is when the Judger got a foothold inside of you.
If you are like most people, you had these unconscious giants as parents who were doing the best they could, but they didn’t really know how to connect with you. You needed connection with them more than you needed food for survival. Because we as children are the center of our world, the only thing we can assume when the connection is not there is that there is something wrong with us. So your young mind decided if you just change yourself, then your parents will see and love you. That was the birth of the Judger who constantly watches to see if you are doing ‘it’ right enough or good enough.
3. The Judger does not believe that it is okay to make mistakes.
Mistakes are absolutely necessary in Life. Author and spiritual teacher, Stephen Levine, once said that if you take a step down the path of life you go two feet, but if you fall flat on your face you go six feet (he is six feet tall)! You were never told that part of your job as a human being is to make mistakes. In fact, have you ever heard of a human being who always got it right? Mistakes (mis-takes) are a normal part of the evolutionary process and they are one of the core ways you learn.
4. The Judger never sees the big picture.
A good way to describe this is with an image. Say you are walking down the street and you come upon a construction site with a barricade of plywood all around the site. But there are holes drilled in the plywood so you can look in and see what is going on. As you look through one hole, all you see is a place where they gather the garbage. What the Judger says is “This is not a well-run site. There is garbage everywhere. Someone should do something about this!” The Judger does not see that the pile of garbage is being picked up tomorrow morning and the rest of the site is well-run. This is how the Judger sees and how it sees us. It looks at our “mis-takes” and uses them as proof that we are a mistake.
So, as you begin to notice your Judger, understand that whatever it says is not true. I know it can be very convincing, but it doesn’t know sh*t. It is just a young part of you that is trying to whip you into shape so you can finally be the ‘right’ kind of person, the person who deserves to be loved. The more you free yourself from your Judger, you will see that you are already lovable, always have been and always will be. You will see that you are a unique and necessary part of humanity and that your imperfections are a part of your perfection!